The Disability Update Report is a quick form that Social Security sends out to help them decide whether they are going to do a Continuing Disability Review for you this year.
The update report is often called “the Short Form.” This form is not a medical review. It is just a little form they use to decide if they want to do a medical review. When you get a short form, Social Security does not contact your doctor or look at any of your medical records.
The short form is a very simple form that only takes five minutes to complete. Ten short form tips:
# 1 – Understand the Short Form
The Short Form is not a disability review. Social Security will not collect your medical records. They will not decide if you are disabled. The short form is just a quick screening where you check a few boxes, and then the computer decides whether to send you a long form. Most of the time, short forms simply pass with no further review needed.
# 2 – Try Not to Get Too Stressed
Many of our readers report getting overly stressed and having worse health and mental health symptoms because of reviews. Please try to take care of yourself. It may help to keep in mind: No one gets cut off disability because of the short form. This is just a small screening form. Most short forms pass without problems.
# 3 – Make a Copy Before Starting
This way if you check the wrong box or make a mistake, you will have a blank copy to work with. We have heard from many many readers who did not make a copy first and regretted it. Please make a copy if you are able.
# 4 – Answer Honestly
It is important to answer all questions honestly, especially about working. Social Security checks IRS records to see if people are working. They can also check bank accounts.
# 5 – List Your Reason For Doctor’s Visit
Most questions on this form are very straight forward, but some people struggle with what to write in the boxes for “reason for doctor’s visit.” The Social Security policy manual does not give any specific guidance on how this section should be filled out. Most people write down their diagnosis in this box. For example, “Bipolar.” But some people write something more general like “Psychiatric Treatment” or “Medication refill.”
Tip: Telehealth and video visits are now treated the same as an in-person visit. If you are doing video visits with your doctor, you can list these.
# 7 – Advanced trick: Look Up Your Profile Code
You don’t have to do this. You can if you want!
Your profile code is either “low” “medium” or “high”. This code may be used to help determine if your form will be automatically approved right now, or if they might have to send you a long form for a more detailed review: How to find your profile code
# 8 – Advanced trick: Learn the Short Form Magic Trick
Social Security has put a system in place where most short forms are processed by a computer that will scan in the boxes on the form. This computer has the ability to make a decision without being read by a human. Your form can be reviewed by a computer without being seen by a human if:
- You are not working
- You have included no remarks and nothing written in the margins
- You have included no attachments
- The form is signed
- All questions are answered
- Form is completed in English
- You do not have other unresolved Social Security issues
- You do not use this form to change your address
Many people with a “low” profile code decide they would rather just have their form read by a computer. Because it is sometimes faster, and likely the computer will just automatically approve them!
# 9 – Should I Include Remarks and Attachments?
There is no wrong or write answer to this.
Some people with a “low” profile code decide to include no remarks and no attachments. This way their form just gets read by the computer. Done! If your profile code is low, and you have 3 doctor visits within the past 2 years, and you are not working, there is a very good chance the computer will automatically approve you! Including remarks and attachments will just slow things down and make your application go to a human who will have to read through everything you send and make a more detailed decision.
Some people with a “medium” or “high” profile code decide to include remarks or attachments. People may decide to do this if they feel they want their application to be read by a human because they have medical records or documents from their doctor that they want to enclose, proving that their condition is still severe and has not improved.
If you’d like to see some excruciating details on how Social Security processes these codes, look here:
# 10 – Don’t Panic
Just do the best you can with it. You won’t lose your disability because of crossing something out or accidentally writing the wrong word in one box. As long as you are honest on the form and make your best effort to answer the questions honestly, you won’t be penalized for a small mistake. If the computer has trouble reading your form, the form will just go to be reviewed by a person and take a little longer. In the end, the outcome should be the same.
More important info on: How to Fill Out a Disability Update Report
If you would like to read some excruciating and impenetrable instructions on how the Short Form is processed, here you can find the policy manual for the short form.
This page is part of the free online guide Everything No One Ever Tells You About Living on Social Security Disability
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